Ancient Roman and Greek Coins: Educational pages
Table of Contents: (Click the images to go to the pages)
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
Beginners, begin here with the FAQ page
This coin: A common silver denarius of the Roman emperor Septimus Severus, 193-211 AD
Associated pages about buying on eBay, about buying, about selling.
For beginners who ask "What should I collect?"
Three pages which are especially important for those who have collected US coins:
The difference between grade and condition.
Commentary on a difference between collecting US and ancient coins.
Information about rarity and its (lack of) importance for cost (for intermediate collectors).
Coin collecting is a hobby of the mind.
Information about avoiding fakes.
About moving up from "beginner" to "intermediate" collector.
Ancient coins as an investment.
Annotated Roman coin educational links (with some Greek and Byzantine coin links too).
Links to web sites that emphasize particular emperors.
(These are educational pages and nothing here is for sale. If you are looking for ancient coins for sale, here is my site, Augustus Coins, and here are links to other sites.)
What's new? Feb 24: Coins of the Second Tetrarchy. Post-reform radiates a.k.a radiate fractions. SACRA MONETA.
Feb. 9, 2020: Introduction to Roman coins of the First Tetrarchy, 294-305.
Feb. 9: Abdication Coins of Diocletian and Maximan, 305-307.
Feb. 9: Follis types of the First Tetrarchy, 293-305
Oct. 28: A type set of AE for Arcadius. Links to other type sets are here. These are part of the large site on late Roman AE, 364-450.
Oct. 17: The early triskeles symbol at Aspendos in Pamphylia (Turkey)
Oct. 14: A second page of interesting CoinTalk threads.
August 28: Introduction to Byzantine Coins. For those who know little or nothing about Byzantine coins.
Contents: Scroll down to see site titles in chronological order of the topic.
For beginners: FAQ, possible collecting themes, educational links, ancient-coin dealers, eBay fakesellers to avoid, grade and condition, links to interesting CoinTalk threads.
Major sites: Late Roman AE (364-450), Early Christian Symbols on Roman coins, Ancient Imitations, Introduction to Byzantine coins, Byzantine coins of the Cherson mint.
Large sites: VOTA coins of the Roman empire, reverse types unique to a particular emperor, how dates are determined for coins of the Roman Republic, Byzantine anonymous folles.
Unusual denominations: The Republican and imperial quinarius, the late Roman silver argenteus, late Roman AE fractions (mostly from Trier), the quarter-follis (c. 305), the "radiate fraction" from Diocletian's coin reform.
Emperors: Trajan, Geta, Severus Alexander (year 5 at Alexandria), Maximinus I the giant, Volusian, the First Tetrarchy, Constantine as FIL AVG, Vetranio, Constantius Gallus, Jovian, Eudoxia (wife of Arcadius), type sets of emperors 364-450, Justinian at Antioch.
Byzantine: Introduction to Byzantine coins, Justinian at Antioch, anonymous folles (10th-11th centuries), the Dan Clark collection of early Byzantine coins with a cross above the head, a complete list of the Byzantine coins minted at the Cherson mint (7th-11th centuries).
Many other pages, more or less in chronological order, below. Skip down to the period of the Roman Republic, the third century, the tetrarchy, and Constantine. Contents of Sale Catalogs (by firm)(by collecting theme).
Click on the images to go to the pages.
Dates: All of ancient coinage
Possible Collecting Themes and reference works about them
to help answer the question "What should I collect?"
This coin: A silver Roman provincial coin of Trajan with a camel on the reverse, celebrating his annexation of Arabia in AD 106 . It could be part of a collection of imperial portraits, a collection of coins of Trajan, a collection of Roman provincial coins, or part of a collection of animals on ancient coins.
Educational sites (chronological order):
Date: c. 465 BC and later.
Triskeles, a symbol of Aspendos, Pamphylia (Turkey)
A discussion of the three-legged type. [One page]
This coin: The first type from Aspendos, c. 465-435 BC, a silver stater with a triskeles.
Date: c. 324 BC.
Coins and archaeology work together to identify Seuthes III
This coin: Greek king Seuthes III
[A short page about one type]
Dates: Third to First Centuries BC
Roman Republican Coin Types and their Dating
Republican coins are not explicitly dated, so how can we know their dates?
A timeline page of examples plus a page of theory.
This coin: one of the first types of the silver "denarius" denomination
Date: First century BC.
Roman Republican plated imitation in Dacian style
[A short page about one coin]
Dates: Roman Republic and Empire to AD 321
The Quinarius Denomination
An illustrated discussion of the five time periods with the "quinarius"
This coin: 16-15 mm. Issue of the moneyer C. Fundanius, 101 BC.
[A very long page]
[One short page]
Date: First and second centuries
The Quadrans and Semis Denominations
of Roman Imperial Coins
An Introduction. [A long page]
This coin: an "anonymous" type with helmeted bust of Mars/cuirass
Geta, his portraits, 198-212 AD.
Geta's portraits change as he ages from nine to twenty-two.
This coin: His first portrait style.
[One short page]
Severus Alexander (222-235) "year 5"
coins of Roman Alexandria
Year 5 (AD 225/6) is particularly interesting because there are Alexandrian year 5 coins from two different years and two different mints. See the page with the explanation. [One long page]
This coin: A "year 5" coin struck in Rome for the mint of Alexandria, Egypt.
Maximinus Thrax, the giant. Roman emperor 235-238. His portrait types.
Maximinus Thrax issued denarii with three distinct portrait types.
This coin: The early style portrait.
[One long page]
What was Volusian's name?
Volusian, Augustus, 251-253 AD.
This coin: Volusian, stuck at Antioch.
[One short page]
The Tripolis mint of late third century AD Rome
An illustrated list of all the coin types of the Tripolis mint.
An educational resource for collectors.
[One long page with links to additional examples]
This coin: Tacitus, 276 AD.
Pages about the coins of the First and Second Tetrarchies (all pages can be reached from the first, introductory, page):
"Introduction to the Roman coins of the First Tetrarchy: Diocletian, Maximian, Constantius, and Galerius"
"Roman coins of the Second Tetrarchy"
"Coins of the First Tetrarchy: Pre-Reform Coins of Diocletian, Maximian, Constantius I, and Galerius"
"Follis types of the First Tetrarchy, 293-305 CE"
"GENIO POPVLI ROMANI: a common late Roman coin type"
"SACRA MONETA: Roman coins of the First Tetrarchy, 294-305"
Abdication types of Diocletian and Maximian
How to distinguish coins of Maximian from coins of Galerius
The "radiate fraction" a.k.a. "post-reform radiate" denomination.
The silver argenteus denomination.
How coins are dated to the Second Tetrarchy
Types with FORTVNA
Antoniniani from Siscia with coded officina numbers
Introduction to Roman coins of the First Tetrarchy, 284-305
Diocletian, Maximian, Galerius, and Constantius.
This coin: An aurelianus (antoninianus) of Diocletian.
Follis types of the First Tetrarchy, 293-305 CE.
An illustrated list of the follis types issued during the First Tetrarchy
This Coin: A follis issued to celebrate Maximian's arrival to Carthage.
Abdication Coins of Roman Emperors
Diocletian and Maximian, 284-305 CE.
An illustrated list of all the types.
This coin: Diocletian as retired emperor. 25 mm.
Coded Officina Marks of the Roman emperors
Diocletian and Maximian at Siscia (289-290 AD)
The unique use of the Jovian and Herculian titles to indicate officina numbers. [One page]
This coin: Maximian with mintmark incorporating ΛI, part of a code.
GENIO POPVLI ROMANI, a common type under the tetrarchy (arranged by ruler). Portraits arranged by mint.
This coin: Diocletian from Aquileia
[Several pages for several emperors]
Distinguishing Maximian, Galerius, and Maximinus II
This coin says "MAXIMIANVS" but is of Galerius.
Find out how to tell them apart.
[One page with lots of examples]
Date: c. AD 300
Late Roman fractions from Trier under the tetrarchy
This coin: a small, 13 mm, fraction, struck for Diocletian, minted at Trier.
VOT/XX/AVGG, in celebration of his 20th anniversary
[One long page]
Dates: AD 294-310
The Argenteus Denomination
An illustrated discussion of the history and types of the denomination.
This coin: 20-19 mm. An argenteus of Diocletian, struck 96 (XCVI) to the pound of silver.
[A very long page with many illustations]
Dates: AD 287-297
Usurpers who wanted to join the club
Usurpers under the first tetrarchy (the time of Diocletian and Maximian)
This coin: The usurper Domitius Domitianus at Alexandria, Egypt.
[A single page about two usurpers]
Dates: AD 310-311
Adfini, Cognat, Patri, Socero
under Maxentius at Rome
Some unusual words found on a commemorative series issued by Maxentius
This coin: 23 mm. IMP MAXENTIVS DIVO MAXIMIANO PATRI
[A single short page with four types illustrated]
Date: 312 AD
Anonymous civic issues under Maximinus II (AD 310-313)
also known as "pagan coinage of the Great Presecution of Christians" and as "Civic coinage."
[A single page with the types.]
This coin: 15 mm. Jupiter/Victory
Constantine as Caesar and as FIL AVG (A.D. 306-310)
An illustrated article on the the Roman rulers and their mints from 306-310
when Constantine was awarded the unusual title "Filius Augusti".
This coin: Constantine as "FIL AVG", minted at Antioch.
[A long article with 33 relevant coins illustrated]
CONSTANTINOPOLIS: Roman coins commemorating
the founding of Constantinople under Constantine.
A short article here (only about this one common type).
A complete list and longer article here. (The picture links to this one.)
This coin: CONSTANTINOPOLIS/Victory, 330-340 AD.
Christian Symbols on Roman Coins
A complete list of types from its beginning under Constantine to 364 AD.
A resource for collectors of late Roman AE coins.
This coin: Magnetius, AD 350-353, with a Christian chi-rho reverse type.
[A large, comprehensive, site]
Long Mintmarks on Roman Imperial coins.
A few of the longest mintmarks illustrated.
This coin: Julian II, "the Apostate", 361-363 AD.
Vetranio, Roman emperor in AD 350: His six AE coin types.
The Roman emperor Vetranio ruled in the Balkans for ten months in AD 350.
His AE coin types are listed and illustrated here.
This coin: Vetranio with the famous early Christian "HOC SIGNO VICTOR ERIS" reverse.
[A page with a second page of additional images]
Constantius Gallus, 351-354. His AE types.
This coin: FEL TEM REPARATIO, soldier-spearing-fallen-horseman. By far his most common type.
[One long page about his 10 AE types]
Jovian, Roman emperor from June 363 to Febuary 364:
[One page about his four AE types]
The Roman emperor Jovian reigned only eight months.
His AE coin types are listed and illustrated here. [One page]
This coin: Jovian with reverse VOT/V/MVLT/X from Sirmium.
Guide to Late Roman AE Coin Types, AD 364-450
A complete list of types of emperors Valentinian I through Theodosius II and Valentinian III
A resource for collectors of Late Roman AE coins.
This coin: Valens/GLORIA ROMANORVM
[A very large reference site with many pages]
Officina Numbers on Late Roman Coins
The unusual use of officina numbers spelled out on issues of Valentinian, Valens, and Gratian.
This coin: Valens, 364-378 AD, with officina PRIMA.
Eudoxia, wife of Arcadius, Augusta 400-404
Her two AE types. [One short page]
This coin: Her bust right, crowned by the Hand of God
/empress seated facing, crowned by the Hand of God.
Introduction to Byzantine Coins (491-1453)
This coin: A massive 42 mm reformed "follis" (of 40 nummi) struck by Justinian (527-565) year 13 at Nicomedia.
A site for beginners about the coins struck under the Byzantine Empire with a few stories that will interest more-advanced collectorss too. [Six substantial pages.]
The Dan Clark Collection of early
Byzantine copper coins with a cross above the head.
An extensive collection of unusual cross-above head coins.
This Coin: Justin I (518-527), Sear 84, with a bold cross above his head.
The Byzantine emperor Justinian (527-565 AD)
and the earthquakes at Antioch.
Byzantine coins of Justinian from Antioch
[One very long page]
This coin: Justinian seated facing on a throne
[A large, comprehensive, site with many pages]
Date: 10th - 11th centuries
Byzantine "anonymous folles" of the 10th - 11th centuries
The site illustrates all the types, explains attributions and dates, gives their frequencies, and tells their stories here.
This coin: A large 32-30 mm "Class A2" follis attributed to Basil II (the Bulgar Slayer) and Constantine VIII
[Two substantial pages]
Can you think of one emperor who issued coins from one mint with more than five distinctly different mintmarks?
Begin on pages here.
Date: Entire Roman imperial period.
Some reverse types that are unique to a particular Roman emperor
in a quiz format (with immediate answers). Can you recognize them?
This type: Captive seated on a pile of arms. DAC CAP in exergue.
[A site with several pages and a hundred interesting types explained on linked pages]
Date: 116 CE.
Trajan's Parthian War.
A sestertius type that explicitly mentions Armenia and Mesopotamia.
[A short page]
[A very long main page with a dozen pages linked to it]
Date: Late second century AD
MARTI CASTRORVM, Mother of the camps
This type was used on the coins of only two empresses.
This coin: A silver denarius struck for Faustina, Jr., wife of Marcus Aurelius.
[A short page]
Date: Third century AD.
ADVENTVS, arrival of the emperor
The Roman emperor arrives in Rome
This coin: Septimius Severus (193-211) returns to Rome in 202.
Date: During the Roman empire
PROFECTIO, and other travel types
The Roman emperor departs for war
This coin: Severus Alexander (222-235), lead by Victory, departs for war in the east.
[One long page]
Date: Roman imperial period.
The real meaning of SECVRITAS on Roman coins.
This coin: Caracalla, 196-217 AD
[A short page with a few examples]
Date: The entire Roman period
Ancient Imitations of Roman Coins
An educational site about genuinely ancient coins that were imitations or counterfeits in their day.
This coin: An ancient counterfeit Roman Republican denarius.
[A very large site with one long main page and many pages linked to it]
Ancient Coin Auction Catalogs: Contents
An educational site for ancient coin collectors about sale catalogs.
A related site where catalogs are grouped by collecting theme.
This catalog: M&M 37, Basel, Switzerland.
[One very long page]
Links to interesting CoinTalk threads.
Links to useful notes and printouts for a few good books, including the Seaby introductory series (Greek, Roman, Roman Provincial), SNG Copenhagen, BCD Peloponessos, Celator index, SAN index, Ras Suarez' rarity rankings, Latin pronunciation, list of Greek authorities, and a few legends of Roman Alexandria translated.
The end of the table of contents for the educational site.
Here are ancient coins and related literature for sale.